Baseball officials reapplied Thursday for a permit that would allow Cuba to join the inaugural World Baseball Classic in the spring, and Puerto Rican athletic officials said San Juan should withdraw as a host city if the Cubans aren't allowed to participate.
Hours later, Cuba sought to allay the fears of the U.S. government by saying it would donate any money it receives for taking part in the 16-nation tournament March 3-20 to victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The U.S. Treasury Department last week denied a permit request from Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association. The permit is required because of U.S. laws and regulations governing certain transactions with Cuba.
MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said a new application was submitted to the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control. The commissioner's office and the union had said they planned to address government concerns and ensure that no money would go from U.S. entities to the Cubans.
Israel Roldan, the president of the Baseball Federation of Puerto Rico, and Hector Cardona, the president of the Puerto Rican Olympic Committee, opposed the Treasury Department decision.
"What we are saying is that we should renounce our position as host if Cuba is not permitted to compete," Roldan said.
Roldan sent a letter Wednesday to International Baseball Federation president Aldo Notari that said Puerto Rico would decline to be a venue because of the decision by the U.S. government.
"We have not heard that from the federation," Courtney said.
Cardona said he was talking with other Latin American athletic officials to enlist their support in persuading the U.S. government to change its position.
Lawton to Mariners: The Seattle Mariners took a chance on outfielder Matt Lawton, agreeing to terms on a one-year, $400,000 contract with a player who will start next season serving a 10-game suspension because of steroid use.
The commissioner's office announced Nov. 2 that Lawton tested positive for the steroid boldenone, which is used by veterinarians.
"It was such a stupid thing, but I was desperate," Lawton told USA Today Sports Weekly. "... I never had the urge to take any of that stuff before, but I was talking to some guys, and they guaranteed it would get the pain out."
Lawton batted a combined .254 with 13 home runs and 53 RBI last season for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cubs and New York Yankees.
other signings: The Minnesota Twins agreed to terms with outfielder Rondell White on a one-year, $3.25 million contract with an option for 2007. The option will become guaranteed if White, who has spent much of his career on the disabled list with various injuries, gets 400 plate appearances.
White hit .313 with 12 homers and 53 RBI last season for the Detroit Tigers. The Twins plan to use him primarily as a designated hitter in an effort to keep him healthy.
- The Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to terms with right-hander Brett Tomko on a two-year, $8.7 million contract. He was 8-15 with a 4.48 ERA last season for the San Francisco Giants.
- The Yankees re-signed outfielder Bernie Williams to a one- year, $1.5 million contract that allows him to earn $1.5 million more in bonuses. He hit .249 with 12 homers and 64 RBI last season.
- The San Diego Padres agreed to terms with infielder Mark Bellhorn on a one-year, $800,000 contract. He hit .210 with eight homers and 30 RBI last season for the Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
- The Red Sox reached a preliminary agreement with catcher John Flaherty on a one-year, $650,000 contract. He hit .165 with two homers and 11 RBI last season for the Yankees.
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